What a month! July 2017 will be the month always remembered for the inaugural Pre-Season tour, 24 days and 11 games down and finally we the season is upon us. Tonight marks the opening day of the Gloucestershire league calendar and the opening day of the Severn Sport coverage for the season, where all the boys will be travelling to Glevum Park to visit Tuffley Rovers as they host Fairford Town, two sides who we witnessed on week one of the pre-season tour. This past week was week three of the tour and we witnessed our final three games. Following a county wide tour in the last two weeks, we followed Gloucester City in their final three pre-season games ahead of their season opener at Chelmsford on Saturday. Here is the best of the action.
***The Pre-season Tour is Supported by Macron Store Gloucester. Please visit http://www.macronstoregloucester.com for all of your sportswear needs***
Game 9 (25/07/17) – Slimbridge 2-4 Gloucester City
What a game we saw at Thornhill Park! Two very good footballing sides who looked very good going forward matched each other more than the scoreline suggests. I was very impressed with Slimbridge and the way they reacted to going a goal down. To score a goal either side of half time shocked Gloucester into life it really did. On the flipside it showed grit and determination for Gloucester to come back from 2-1 down to be 3-2 up with two goals in two minutes. Ultimately it felt like City had enough to win the game but I think the fans and potentially some of the players thought they would have an easier ride.
As I said the scoreline suggests that City ran riot in front of goal to a certain extent but the gloss was only added late on after City had to claw their way back from 2-1 down. Slimbridge ran out of steam towards the end hence why after Morford made it 3-2 they fell back in and ultimately Kotwica finished the scoring off with a lovely solo goal.
Stand Out Player(s)
For Slimbridge the three stand outs for me were Henry Birkett, Sam Turl and goalscorer Jack Twyman. Birkett was tireless in his efforts throughout his game and deserved more. In the first half Birkett tested Kieran Parselle who was at left back on the night, it was a very tasty match up. Twyman scored a glorious goal just after half time to put the Swans in front and he bossed the midfield for a good proportion of the game whilst he was on the pitch. Twyman could be the catalyst for a good season for Slimbridge. Turl was incredible at right back for the whole match and he was as good as he was going back, something that is vital in the modern game.
On the opposition there were a few stand out performances. Once again the Severn Sport sponsored Keiran Thomas was superb in the right back position and led his side well. One player who has impressed me throughout pre-season and especially the way he commanded his team mates during this game in particular was Spencer Hamilton. I’ll be honest when I say I was critical at points last year of Hamilton but during this pre-season I have seen something different from him. His positioning has been superb and he kept Slimbridge at bay throughout the match. In the first half midfielder Darren Mullings was imperious in the middle, showcasing his range of passing as well as showing the younger midfielders on both sides how important experience can be.
The front duo of Ethan Moore and Edji Mbunga were dynamite, particularly in the first half. Moore’s opening goal was taken so easily for a man who has just missed a year of his footballing career. Class is permanent that is for sure.
In the evening before the game Gloucester was being flooded as the heavens had not opened but they caved in on the city of Gloucester. When we got to Thornhill Park it was a delightful summer evening and rain was a myth. Incredible British weather. In terms of the crowd, there were a good number of both Slimbridge and City fans who were treated to a great game of football. Slimbridge are always humble hosts whenever Severn Sport makes the trip and the locals are some of the loveliest people we have met during the pre-season tour.
A good game, plenty of goals and a lovely crowd of people to welcome us. It is hard to find any negatives!
Game 10 (29/07/17) – Gloucester City 1-3 Derby County U23s
After City’s win against Slimbridge it was a completely different kettle of fish for the Tigers as the youthful Derby side took the game to City early on and ultimately nullified City’s expansive style. Through the front line they had a lot of success in behind city with their striker Zanzala tormenting both Avery and Hamilton throughout. It was all about The Thomas Brothers for the most part, especially when Luke broke the deadlock just before halftime, brother Keiran equalized from the penalty spot and then young Luke had the final say by slotting the Young Rams 2-1 in front. A late third put icing on the cake for Derby.
I don’t think the result wasn’t correct. I think the scoreline flattered Derby in a sense. Were Derby two goals better than City? Not for me. Did they have too much for City on the day? Just about. Tim Harris said to us afterwards that the most important thing was being competitive and up until that late third City matched Derby for the most part.
Stand Out Player(s)
Just like against Slimbridge I was impressed with Spencer Hamilton at the back for City. His constant talking and direction helped keep the defence together despite the nippy young forwards for the Rams causing all sorts of havoc. Going forward for City I thought Zak Kotwica was exceptional. Having scored his first goal of pre-season against Slimbridge he was a constant thorn in the side of the Derby back line with his direct approach and ability to beat defenders in air as well as with the ball at his feet. His Severn Sport Tipster League partner Joe Hanks played the majority of the game on the right wing and nearly scored an equalizer at 2-1 that would have been in the same top drawer as some of his goal of the season contenders from last season. City were slowly getting back up the level they were at last season.
Not many bums on seats and not many boots through the door at all. There wasn’t much of an atmosphere at all but when City were pressing for an equaliser the crowd got behind the boys.
Somehow the atmosphere seemed to be quieter than it has been at Whaddon Road for City over the years. I am sure it will get better over time but I am not convinced that City will get much in the way of attendance this season.
Game 11 (31/07/17) – Gloucester City 2-2 Hereford FC
What a competitive and exciting game we witnessed last night on the pre-season tour. The perfect way to cap the tour off with our favourite scoreline. Both sides fought hard and in the first half Hereford looked better on the ball, but City had more of the ball. We were once again denied a clean sheet when after ex-City defender Jack Deaman headed beyond debutant Andy Hannah in goal for City. A well worked goal created by Will Morford and converted by Karnell Chambers saw City equalise but they would ultimately go into half time trailing after a supposed push on Deaman saw Hereford’s new front man Lance Smith convert from 12 yards. A late Will Morford header ensured both City and Severn Sport would end pre-season with a draw (another one!). Oh yeah, and we saw a red card, in bloody pre-season! Garyn (is this a name?) Preen was sent off for a horrendous tackle, a tackle that somehow Hereford fans have been able to defend….strange bunch.
I think a draw was a fair reflection of how the game was panning out. City’s relentless attacking play towards the end of the game was just too much for Hereford and ultimately Morford found space in the box (he stood still. The best strikers stand still and let the ball find them!) and divert before a helpless Ross. The red card was just an example of how competitive the game was.
Stand Out Player(s)
The obvious player was the Severn Sport man of the match Will Morford who scored two beautiful headers during pre-season and has answered critics that he still knows where the goal is. His involvement and experience will do the rest of the forward players the world of good and it was a second half substitute Joe Parker who stood out also. City were unleashing him down the left throughout the second half and young man JP wasn’t afraid to take on the Hereford back line, he used pace, skill and his head. Very impressed. Karnell Chambers continued to showcase reasons why Tim Harris has brought him in over the summer with urgent running, swift attacking play and composure to put the ball in the back under pressure. He is another City player who has had a wonderful pre-season.
There were two things that confused me about the atmosphere. It wasn’t that there were so many Hereford fans present that it felt like a City away game but it was the fact that after a shocking tackle the Hereford locals gave Gary with an N a standing ovation. Bizarre. Also, for some unknown reason there were too many people with high visibility jackets on for my liking at the game. It’s pre-season, between two non-league sides. What are we doing?
Please see above. Quality over quantity when it comes to security and stewarding at games please.
And there we have it. Our first ever pre-season tour is over. A massive thank you to everyone at every club for hosting us, we will be sure to catch everyone throughout the season (August fixtures are announced later!) and we thank everyone who joined us for the tour, from young Charlie Hughes to Young Tyrell to our work experience Steven Bevan. We are only just getting started though, as tonight marks our first league game and on Saturday, the FA Cup is back on Severn Sport!!